Everyone’s favorite spooky season is back! But while tricks (and treats) are fun for one night a year, it’s not fun when companies are tricking you into forking over your hard-earned cash for stuff you don’t need.
While it’s not technically a scam for stores to do these things, you should know that companies aren’t out to help you – they’re out to snatch your cash and put it in their pocket. Here are six sneaky ways companies can trick you into overspending, and how you can say no to their schemes this year.
1. Subscription services
Subscription services pop up under the guise of convenience. After all, you just sign up once and you can cancel at any time, so what’s the harm? The trouble is this: you’re likely to forget that monthly charge until it’s too late, and multiple months can really add up. A simple $15 dollar subscription can add up to $180 by the end of the year – and that’s just one subscription!
Action item: Make a list of all your subscriptions, and calculate how much each one is costing you per year. The number will probably shock you – and motivate you to drop a few of those services you’re not really using.
2. Store Layouts
Trust us – those products don’t end up where they are because store employees ran out of room. Often, end cap displays in stores pair a highly discounted item along with a product that’s selling at a premium price. And once you’ve walked by a few of them, you’ve ended up with a bunch of things you don’t need. Another sneaky trap companies try is putting the essential items that people really need at the back of the store, so you have to walk by all the other merchandise and stretch your willpower.
Action Item: Before you enter a store, make a list and set it in stone, and don’t let ANYTHING distract you from it.
3. Limited-time Offers
There’s nothing like a countdown clock to get our pulses racing. Our brains are trained to respond to countdowns, and the fear of missing out turns up our desire to make an impulse buy. That’s why companies pair hot items with time-limited deals that seem too good to pass up.
Action Item: Whenever you feel tempted to buy something, write it down instead of purchasing it right away. Wait a few weeks and see if you still want it as badly when it’s not part of a time-sensitive offer. If you still do want the item, trust us – it’ll be on sale again soon.
4. Bundled products
A company or store wouldn’t be doing its job if they didn’t try to upsell you on buying more than you originally purchased. Often, stores will put related items together and mark it as a discounted bundle – but it’s only a bargain if you were planning to buy all of the items in the first place.
Action Item: Plan your purchases ahead of time and then search for deals, rather than waiting for appealing bundled items to convince you that you need something.
5. Loyalty programs & store cards
When the cashier asks you to join their loyalty program or get a store card, they’re not just trying to help you save – they’re trying to get you to spend! Even if loyalty programs are free to begin with, odds are you won’t be seeing the benefits until you’ve dropped a lot of cash at the store. And if you’re already struggling to stay within your budget, a bunch of tempting sales and discounts won’t help your cause.
Action Items: If you’re more tempted to spend than save at your favorite store, a loyalty program may be more temptation than it’s worth. And let’s be honest – if you’re in credit card debt, the last thing you need is another card that’s swiping your money. Skip the store cards, and stick with paying in cash for what you need.
Buy one, get one free – it’s probably the most common sale out there, and it’s pretty hard to pass up free stuff. But is the item really free? Well, not exactly. Researchers have done the math, and it turns out that lots of products that are put up for these offers are often overpriced in the first place. You’re actually paying more for a product than if you would have just bought a more inexpensive version at the start.
Action item: To determine if a BOGO offer is actually a good deal, ask yourself if you’d buy only one of the items at that price without the sale.
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